Test 1, Day 2

South Africa 214 for 5 (Bavuma 48*, Rabada 9*) trail England 458 (Root 190, Moeen 87) by 244 runs


My only sister and I never very close, even though we lived across the hall from each other for over 16 years. And by the time we both were in high school we barely saw one another and rarely spoke unless we were shouting. But she was still a constant presence in my life, a life which lacked consistency and stability, and for that presence I was always at least quietly grateful. And more than that, she was proof that life before my father’s death really had happened, that all that we had shared as a family had been real, not just a figment of my imagination. She, like my brother and mother, was a connection to the time before everything went south for me.

In the late summer of my junior year of high school, my sister was going off to college — moving to Duluth to attend St. Scholastica, which was about a three hour drive away. On a cloudy Saturday in August my mother, brother and step-father were going to drive her up there, stay the night in a hotel, help her move into her dorm room and then drive back home. The morning they were set to leave, I was around, which was odd because I was never around those days. They were all going to breakfast and I was invited along, and I accepted. For some reason I was happy to be around my family, and even happier to be around my sister, I don’t remember why I felt that way, or if there was even a reason for it. Maybe I was just in a good mood — though I don’t remember being in many good moods those days — or maybe it was my way of saying goodbye: subconsciously not being a bastard to my sister during her last hours with us. When we were walking from the car to the restaurant I even put my arm around my sister in a joking manner. I hadn’t done anything like that in probably a decade.

At breakfast I decided I would go along with them to Duluth. Ride in the backseat of the family van, share a hotel room with my little brother and help my sister move. I had nothing going on, and there was a promise of dinners out and hey hotels were fun and so I packed a small bag and off we went.

The drive up was long and boring. We had dinner that night at a pizza place and spent the evening in the hotel swimming and watching cable television. The next morning was hectic. Repacking my sister’s belongings from the hotel into the van and trying to find the dorm and parking and not knowing where to go and then the general franticness of a college parking lot filled with freshmen and their parents and their cars and their belongings and hauling boxes and boxes up flights and flights of stairs. It was an arduous and chaotic two hours but also productive and in the end we had her all moved in and set up and shelves built and ready to go.

After finishing up we ate lunch at a picnic table outside the dorm. Cans of soda and chips and sandwiches my mother had brought from home. It was a nice day, and the college campus was green and warm and there was a pleasant expectant energy in the air. My sister finished her meal and hugged my mother but not me or my brother or my step-father and she dashed off to freshman orientation and her new life, a life that existed outside of us.

We piled back into the van and began the long drive back home.

My mother and my step-father held hands in the front seat and my mother cried and cried and cried. But I didn’t feel sad for some reason, despite the fact that I knew I would miss my sister, miss her presence, miss her connection to my father. Instead after the frantic morning I reclined in the backseat, relaxing and enjoying the silence and calmness.

It was only an hour into the drive home when I realized that that was that. My sister was gone, for good. No more seeing her at the dinner table, no more coming home to find her doing her homework in the kitchen, no more fighting over who gets to watch what on the television or who gets to use the car. She was gone from my daily life forever. And yet I still wasn’t sad, instead I felt a resignation, an acceptance that the period of my life in which I shared a residence with my sister had ended. I looked out the window and at the traffic and the houses that dotted the road side. We passed a sign that said it was 128 miles to Minneapolis. I sighed. The only sadness I felt was that I was stuck in the car with my family for another two hours. I leaned my head against the glass and tried to sleep.

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